Why Swallows Build in the Eaves of Houses.

“Do you know”  Peter asked, “why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories”  – Peter Pan.

Bedtime  stories told by a loving parent or grandparent while children listen and become sleepy eyed. That is why swallows build nests in the eaves of houses.

Poor swallows they must be very disappointed for in most houses today the I-pad, the TV or even the smart phone is the story teller.

Storytelling is one of the earliest ways of communication used by mankind. People are essentially social creatures, created to live in communication and emotional contact with others. Listening to a character driven story together with others  creates an emotional bond due to the fact that the brain produces oxytocin under these circumstances. On the other hand if a story is told by a technological device, less oxytocin is produced and the brain is less active in the interpretation of the story.

Paul J. Zak    https://hbr.org/2014/10/why-your-brain-loves-good-storytelling

So let me tell you a story,going back about 50 years.

In a small town called Lyttelton lived  a family. A father, mother and two girls. The father was a busy man running a business, the mother was a stay at home mom, but also the father’s righthand. They worked very hard to make the business work and to provide for their two little girls aged 3 and 6 years old.

They lived just outside the town on a small farm bordered by a river. Everyday the children played in and around the garden while the mother and father worked.As they were living on a farm, nature and its creatures were part of their lives.The girls learnt to love and respect nature as their father was passionate about caring for the world around them.

Night time found the little girls tucked into bed, waiting with anticipation for their favourite time of the day………storytime.

Each night the father told them a story. He created the most wonderful characters from their environment of whom the favorites were Kiekie and Wiekie. Kiekie and Wiekie were two plovers. Their names are derived from the Afrikaans word Kiewiet, (afrikaans for plover).These little birds lived and nested in the veld right next to the garden and their sometimes comical habits, provided the material for a series of stories involving daily activities and life lessons.

Whenever the family experienced a particular event of importance, Kiekie and Wiekie also experienced such an event. Kiekie and Wiekie became part of the family. Their stories transported the girls into a wonderland where anything was possible, where problems could be solved and fun could be had, where life’s lessons could be learnt.

Needless to say, the swallows returned each year to build their nests and raise chicks in the eaves of the family home.

By now you might have guessed that I was one of the two girls. Yes I grew up with a story telling father, one who could bring to life the animals and creatures around us giving them the ability to be almost human.

Later when I married and had children of my own, I continued with the  tradition of storytelling and so my children grew up with Kiekie and Wiekie. Now I am a grandmother and I would love my grandchildren to know Kiekie and Wiekie too.So I started writing the stories down. After many editions and help from an editor, the book is almost ready for printing. By writing the story of Kiekie and Wiekie I came to love them even more and when I saw the illustrations created by Alex van Houwelingen they looked just as I had imagined them.


Today I saw a the final manuscript of the book. It filled me with joy and good childhood memories. I am sure my brain became overactive producing loads of oxytocin.!

Although I wrote the book  mainly to preserve the stories for children in our family, I trust that other children  will also  be enchanted by Kiekie and Wiekie.

Do the swallows return to build in the eaves of your house?

If not,  become a storyteller and help the next generation to learn the art of communicating and connection.

Another sneak peak.

Kiekie and Wiekie as chicks



One of their many adventures. 22




Button Tin Memories

The button tin sits in a far corner of my messy sewing drawer, waiting to be opened and scratched in for that one button which can replace the missing or broken one on a shirt, or a blouse  in a hurry.While searching for the right button, I started thinking about this seemingly unimportant object called a button and wondered where it all started?

The first evidence of the use of buttons dates back to 2000 B C , when they were intially used as ornaments. Use of buttons as fasteners only developed much later and then only wealthy people could afford to wear them. The number of buttons and the material they were made of became a status symbol of the rich. The most fascinating story about buttons I came across, is that  King Frederick The Great of Prussia, started the practice of  men’s suit coats having non-functioning buttons sewn on the sleeves in the 18th century. The rumor goes that after an inspection of his troops, he ordered  buttons to be sewn on the sleeves of their coats to discourage them from wiping their noses on them!

Read more here: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Alan_Beggerow

Here it is, the button tin waiting to yield just the right button for my shirt.

Buttons 3


Is it waiting for eager  children’s hands to open it and play with the treasures inside?

Some of my most treasured childhood memories are of the days, usually in winter, when  my mother took out all the long left behind in the business of life, sewing and mending projects. ( She still darned socks !) Those were the days when we could play with her button tin, while she sat sewing.


We would  open  the tin  with great anticipation  and  the buttons spilled out in a mix of colours and and sizes. Little hands lined them up in rows like soldiers on a march or sorted them  according to colour and  size. There they were, an array of  treasures which could transform a simple hairband into a princess’s crown, or become the eyes on a clumsily handmade doll or teddy. Big round ones could be wheels of a cardboard train, shiny ones became jewels around a smart lady’s neck or coins to go shopping with. They taught us colours , size and the meaning of numbers.

Buttons 2

Maybe one day I can teach my grandchildren the joys of a button tin!


Is it waiting to be used in the next craft project ?

Each time I buy a new dress, coat or shirt which have an extra button, it finds  a place in the button tin untill  I need it.  I love buying buttons and  the  buttons I buy join the others in the button tin untill that day when it becomes the last piece in the puzzle of a craft project be it mosaic, handmade cards, knitted mittens and many more.



Is it waiting to give new life to an old  coat or hand me down jacket?

Lately I have been fascinated  by the trend to wear second hand clothes and found a wonderful velvet coat which belonged to my mother. A few new buttons later and I had a coat which earned many compliments.

Buttons 5

What do you do with all the buttons accumulated in your house?